The New York Islanders are looking to escape Boston with a split of their Second Round series with the Boston Bruins. The Islanders dropped the first game after getting burned by Boston’s “perfection line,” and more specifically by David Pastrnak.
The game wasn’t a wash for the Islanders, who did play competitively for the first 40 minutes before Boston took a stranglehold of the game. The Islanders will need to correct a few things if they’re going to have a fighting chance in Game 2, which includes its top-line making its presence felt.
Here are three things that have to change for the New York Islanders in Game 2.
Contain the ‘Perfection Line’
As Andy Greene said following the Game 1 loss, Boston’s top line didn’t surprise them by any means. Which probably made their complete domination of the Islanders as the game went on all the more frustrating.
Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak combined for six points on Saturday and the Islanders didn’t have an answer for how to stop them. Early in the game Sorokin made several big stops on Marchand and Pastrnak, but couldn’t hold them off forever. And with the Islanders not picking up Pastrnak at times, which led directly to two goals, he had the run of the game.
That can’t happen in Game 2 if New York is hoping to even the series at 1-1 heading back to Long Island.
Islanders Top Line Needs to Show Up
Mathew Barzal has had some pretty successful games against the Boston Bruins. Game 1 of the Second Round was not one of them. The Islanders star, along with Jordan Eberle and Leo Komarov, had a very quiet night on Saturday. The Unit had a combined three shots on net in Game 1 and, according to Natural Stat Trick, the three failed to generate any scoring chances.
In the battle of top-line vs. top-line, the edge was clearly in favor of Boston in Game 1.
Eberle did have a pair of assists on Saturday and he has five points over his last five games. The Islanders forward did start to heat up as the New York’s series with Pittsburgh was winding down.
Where the New York Islanders really need to see some production is from their most offensively gifted forward. Head coach Barry Trotz pointed to the fact that the opponent’s best players are matching up against Barzal.
“They have to really fight for their inches to really have any success in the playoffs,” Trotz said on Monday following the team’s morning skate. “I think in the regular season there is more room. There just is, so they’re able to create and Matt has been able to do that. He’s done it in the past playoffs. He’s been able to create and put up pretty good numbers. This year it’s a little different.
“He’s having a little more of a struggle. Those players have to fight for the inches and if you’re not willing to fight for those inches then you don’t get those inches, you don’t get those opportunities. He’s got to dig in.”
Adding Barzal’s offensive prowess back into the mix, especially for a team that had struggled to score goals, would go a long way in Game 2.
Rebound Control Needs to be Better
We don’t know who will be in net for Game 2 yet. Trotz is keeping that as closely as guarded a secret as the nuclear launch codes.
Regardless, whoever is in net needs to control their rebounds and have better puck awareness in Game 2. And the defense needs to be able to help out more with that as well. Ilya Sorokin showed in Game 1 he can make those initial stops, but the fortuitous rebounds need to stop. Pastrnak knew where to set up for his second goal in Game 1 because he had already had success in that spot earlier.
“If that’s something they’re going to do, especially off entries and off the rush, I just think it’s important that we’re getting the guys away from the net who are good at finding those soft areas,” Adam Pelech said about defending that. “I think it’s just being dialed in around the net and finding the guys away from the play.”
Part of that issue might be solved by a change in net. The veteran Semyon Varlamov would likely have better control of his rebounds, which would eliminate one of the ways Boston found to burn the Islanders.